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Full text of "Alaskan glacier studies of the National Geographic Society in the Yakutat Bay, Prince William Sound and lower Copper River regions"

CHTLDS  GLACIER                                           397
In July, 1884, Abercrombie ascended the Copper River, taking several photographs of Childs Glacier, experiencing much difficulty because of the icebergs in the river, and noting the speed of the current, the large bowlders carried, and the loud reports from the discharge of icebergs. He estimated that the glacier delivered 8,160,768,000 pounds of ice yearly to the river.1 On his way down the river, in September, he ran the rapids in front of Childs Glacier.
On March 31st and April 1st, 1885, Allen was passing Childs Glacier, where he noted that the river was confined to one channel about 125 yards wide, east of which was a deposit "considerably elevated above the river bed, and overgrown with small timber, which was so thick as to be a great impediment to the movement of OUT sleds." He also mentions "the condition of the ice in front of this (deposit) forbidding an attempt (to travel) along the river." Allen's report is illustrated by several woodcuts of Childs Glacier from photographs taken by Abercrombie the year before,8 which show that the glacier expanded in a clean bulb of white ice in 1884, much as in 1909, having a terminal slope of about the same steepness.
In August, 1891, Hayes and Schwatka descended Copper River, and Hayes made a sketch map showing the Childs and other glaciers and "passed the Childs Glacier, running within a stone's throw of the lofty wall of ice," 8 which suggests lack of great activity of the ice front at that time.
In October, 1898, Abercrombie descended Copper River, observing great changes in the faces of both Childs and Miles Glaciers since his visit in 1884. Childs Glacier then no longer ended in the river, having "a beach some 500 or 600 yards in breadth between it and the water, but adding a succession of very boisterous rapids," 4 including "200 or 300 yards of very nasty, rapid water," below which "the river is deflected to the left (west) by a mass of terminal moraine." Corporal Koehler, who accompanied Abercrombie on this journey past Childs Glacier, stated that "this glacier is dry, because it does not throw any ice. There are some pretty high swells along this glacier, and as the current ran about 8 miles an hour, the boat was sucked with the speed of an arrow."
Guide Rafferty furnishes evidence either that Childs Glacier had retreated westward during the summer of 1898, or, what is more likely, that Abercrombie went down the river at a stage of very low water, for he stated that in early July of the same year "the next danger was from the swell caused by the ice breaking off from the Childs Glacier, which sometimes created such waves as to land a loaded boat 150 feet high and dry on the shore. The current swings directly toward the glacier on making the turn, and it required all the strength at hand to keep from being carried with it. The river was filled with floating ice, some pieces being almost the size of a freight car."
i Abercrombie, W. R., Supplementary Expedition into the Copper River Valley, Alaska, 1884, Narratives of Explorations in Alaska, Senate Rept. 1023,56th Congress, 1st Session, Washington, 1000, pp. 386-390.
'Allen, H. T., Expedition to the Copper, Tanana and Koyukuk Rivers, Washington, 1887, p. 42. Pigs. 3 and 4 and Map 2; also in Narratives of Explorations in Alaska, Washington, 1900, pp. 424-5.
»Hayes, C. W., Expedition Through the Yukon District, Nat. Geog. Mag., Vol. IV. 1892, p. 126.
«Abercrombie, W. R., Reports of Explorations in the Territory of Alaska, 1898, War Dept., Adj.-Gen. Office, No. XXV. Washington, 1899, pp. 315, 322.
Koehler, R. A., Same, p. 431.
Rafferty, J. J., Same, p. 460.
These accounts by Messrs. Abercrombie, Koehler, and Rafferty are also in the Narratives of Explorations in Alaska, Washington, 1900.